- Bernardo Tolomei
name=Blessed Bernardo Tolomei
Blessed Bernardo Tolomei (1272 - 1348) was an Italian theologian, the founder of the
Roman Catholiccongregation of the Blessed Virgin of Monte Oliveto. In the " Roman Martyrology" he is commemorated on August 21.
Giovanni Tolomei was born at
Sienain Tuscany. He took the name of "Bernard" (in its Italian form "Bernardo") out of admiration for the saintly Abbot of Clairvaux. He was educated by his uncle, Christopher Tolomeo, a Dominican, and desired to enter the religious life, but his father's opposition prevented him from doing so, and he continued his studies in secular surroundings. After a course in philosophy and mathematics he devoted himself to the study of civil and canon law, and of theology. For a time Bernardo served in the armies of Rudolph I of Germany. After his return to Siena he was appointed by his fellow citizens to the highest positions in the town government. While thus occupied he was struck with blindness. Having recovered his sight through the intervention of the Blessed Virgin he retired (1313) to a solitary spot about ten miles from Siena, where he led a life of the greatest austerity.
The fame of his virtues soon attracted many visitors, and Bernardo was accused of
heresy. He went to Avignonand cleared himself of this charge before Pope John XXIIwithout difficulty. Upon his return he founded the congregation of the Blessed Virgin of Monte Oliveto (the Olivetans), giving it the Rule of St. Benedict. The purpose of the new religious institute was a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin. Guido, Bishop of Arezzo, within whose diocese the congregation was formed, confirmed its constitution in (1319), and many favours were granted by Popes John XXII, Clement VI(1344), and Gregory XI. Upon the appearance of the plague in the district of Arezzo, Bernardo and his monks devoted themselves to the care of the sick. As a result of this charitable act, Bernardo and a number of his Olivetian confreres themselves succumbed to the ravages of the plague.
After having ruled the religious body he had founded for 27 years Bernardo died, at the age of 76. His death was followed by many
miracles and the congregation became a nursery of saints. In 1634 he was beatified by the Congregation of Rites, but is often referred to as Saint Bernardo.
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